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Volvo S80 and the Environment

Environmental concern is a multi-faceted thing and it begins even before the first computer image of the new car is generated and does not really end with the scrapyard.

Environmental concern must be part of the core of the company. So it comes as no surprise to discover that the Volvo S80 sets a new standard for environmental concern, primarily as a result of Volvo's holistic approach to environmental issues.

First car with environment specification
The Volvo S80 2.9 for the European market is the first car in the world with an environmental specification. This specification covers every phase in the life of the car: production, operation and recycling.

All the data which is used as the basis for the specification is checked by Lloyd's Register, an independent inspection institute. This, too, makes the specification totally unique.

It is Volvo Cars' systematic environmental programme that has made the development of this environmental specification possible. The complete chain comprises 17 company units, including suppliers and dealers.

All the textile material in the car also has certification in accordance with the international Ö KO-TEX standard.

Volvo is aided in this work by a number of important control and analysis tools that have been developed within the organisation over the years. They include:

VEMS (Volvo Environmental Management System), Volvo's manual for the implementation of eco management systems throughout the Volvo Group, leading to ISO and EMAS environmental certification.

The EPS lifecycle analysis (Environmental Priority Strategies in product design) helps engineers during the initial design stages to conduct a complete lifecycle analysis of every material, design and process that is chosen.

The ELU (Environmental Load Unit) is a theoretical rating which indicates the environmental load of a certain project and process and therefore permits comparisons between different solutions.

The MOTIV system (Environment and Toxicology within Volvo) is a computer database containing detailed information about some 5,000 chemical products, which enables product and process developers to choose the chemicals that are less harmful to the environment.

A black list specifies the substances which must not be used, while a grey list contains substances whose use should be minimised wherever possible. A white list contains suitable replacement substances and processes that are less harmful to health and the environment.

DFR (Designed for Recycling) principles are one of the most recently developed environmental tools and control the design and use of recycled and recyclable components.

In general terms, the environmental load a car imposes is divided into three parts, production, operation and scrapping or destruction.

The production phase
The Volvo S80 is the first car on the market to be produced in a process has environmental certification according to the ISO 14001 standard for environmental control systems, issued by Lloyd's of London.

Production itself is preceded by product and process development under the strict guidance of the above-mentioned methods - and many others. The production of the S80 at the Volvo Torslanda Plant is second to none in the automotive industry in both environmental and quality terms.

The paintshop uses one of the world's cleanest painting processes in which virtually all the painting is done by robots in sealed-off spaces. Moreover, all hazardous chemicals have been removed from the production process.

All the paint is naturally waterborne, thereby reducing the emission of solvents to a minimum.

The waste-water cleaning process is world class and much of the water that is discharged from the plant is actually cleaner than the water that is brought in from the local waterworks!

Furthermore, energy consumption during the production phase is deliberately kept as low as possible.

When it comes to materials, the main transition is taking place within the use of plastics. The percentage of recycled plastics and recyclable plastics is increasing the whole time, in line with Volvo's strategy to make more or less the entire car recyclable.

All the plastic parts weighing more than 50 grams are labelled with international symbols to facilitate sorting and recycling. Recycled plastics currently account for some 10 per cent of the plastic content of the Volvo S80, or more than 33 kilograms in weight.

Of the plastic used in the car, some 25 per cent is recyclable but the switch-over to other plastics will continuously increase this figure.

The plastics used on the inside of the car have been carefully selected in order to minimise both vapour emissions and fogging. So-called TPO foil on the dashboard and panels has replaced the PVC which was previously used and was largely been responsible for fogging. TPO has several advantages over PVC. It is far better from an environmental point of view and is also more pleasant to touch.

The work of phasing out CFC from plastics and as a coolant from air conditioning systems started back in the 1980s at Volvo. In 1991, the Volvo 850 went on the market as the first CFC-free car in series production. Needless to say, the Volvo S80 is not only free from CFC but also from mercury, asbestos and cadmium.

The Volvo S80 is the first car on the market to have all its interior fabrics, not just the upholstery materials, Öko-Tex certified. This standard controls the presence of substances that may be allergenic or harmful to the health and only grants certification to materials which comply with its requirements.

Operation phase
During the operational phase of the car, which lasts for perhaps 15 to 20 years, it is important not only to keep all the emissions to a minimum but also to minimise the emission of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon vapour, particulate matter, fuel consumption and so on.

The use of aluminium in engines not only reduces weight but also helps to cut fuel consumption, together with highly efficient combustion and state-of-the-art engine management.

In some variants, fuel consumption has been reduced by up to seven per cent, thanks to the new generation of engines, good aerodynamics and low roll resistance (CD 0.28).

This is part of Volvo's undertaking to reduce fuel consumption in Volvo cars by an average of 25 per cent by the year 2005.

Fuel in this case means not only petrol and diesel. The Volvo S80 will also be available in environmentally-compatible Bi-Fuel versions. The petrol engine will be able to run on methane, natural gas or biogas, whereas the diesel engine will also be able to run on rape-seed oil.

The exhaust emission control in the Volvo p23 - described in detail in the Driving Experience chapter - is the best that is currently available. It produces both a very high level of purification and a very long and efficient service life.

The car easily complies with both the European EU2000 legislation and the American Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) requirements.

Emissions of hydrocarbons from the fuel system when the car is stationary are effectively dealt with and fed back to the engine using evaporation control - the EVAP system.

The scrapping of a car and the re-use of materials must be facilitated in every way. Volvo has carried out in-depth work in this area and it has resulted in a number of achievements.

The Volvo S80 is accompanied by a dismantling manual in order to show the best way of taking it apart when bit is scrapped. This must be done in a well-planned, environmentally-sound manner.

A pilot project, ECRIS, has already been in operation for several years, dismantling car "the environmental way" leaving nothing to waste.

The Volvo S80 has in fact been designed for re-use when it is produced in order to save raw materials and make the best possible use of plastics, metals, rubber, fabrics and so on. The sources of raw materials are limited and it is both possible and necessary for used materials to be used again. The technology is there - and Volvo is using it.

The Volvo S80 can be driven with a clear environmental conscience.

Related page: Volvo S80 Original Press Release

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